Super Bowl 43 was played last night and the Steelers beat the Cardinals 27-23 in a barnburner for the centuries. The problem with the NBC broadcast was not the game, but rather the massive, and unnecessary 10-foot frame of spectacle, commercialism and crass self-promotion that overpowered the delicate watercolor of a beautifully executed game of football.
We knew we were in trouble last night when we were given two — TWO! — for the price of one at every turn.
Two Faith Hills — One sang a twangy Country-Western song to intro the show while the other sang “America the Beautiful.” Since when was the NFL overtaken by the redneck South? Hank Williams, Jr. is plenty country enough for a thousand lifetimes.
Two Songs About America — Faith Hill wasn’t enough. We had to have Jennifer Hudson sing the National Anthem, too.
Two Female Sideline Reporters — Both did nothing during the game after lavish introductions.
Two Faces of Bob Costas — I have no idea how Costas keeps his job. His red-eyed and bleary-lidded performance last night was just as ordinary as usual. The guy loves the sound of his own tinny voice. He talks and talks and talks all while claiming to be unbiased and independent. Please, someone retire the man before he does lasting damage to our retinas and burning ears.
Other than the pain of having to watch truly awful and uninspired $3 million per-showing advertising, Bruce Springsteen left us cold and wondering what happened to his New Jersey cool? Springsteen was more David Lee Roth than “The Boss.” The Bruce we know would never smash into a camera just to be obnoxious.
Let’s forget, for a moment, that Springsteen’s football performance at halftime was preening and over-anxious and let’s examine his strange, new, public love for being backed up by a Black Choir on the chorus of his songs even though they aren’t present on the original recordings.
We first saw evidence of such during his rousing rendition of “The Rising” during the Barack Obama Inauguration party:
Then, curiously, last night during the Super Bowl Halftime show, we were treated to another Black Choir singing with Bruce, however briefly, on his new song — “Working on a Dream” — and we immediately knew Bruce was trying to play the same moment twice in less than two weeks on an international stage.
That’s bad form and terrible taste: At least let one Black Choir wear street clothes so the connection isn’t quite so loud and painful.
As we turn our jaundiced eye to next year’s Super Bowl, let’s hope the NFL will reconstitute the innovative notion they’ve tried only one time before in their history — on December 20, 1980 — when the New York Jets played the Miami Dolphins and there were no announcers.
The only sound of the game was that generated by the crowd and the players. I watched that game and loved every moment of its natural, organic, splendor.
We need a return to the purity of a simple, watercolor, experience when it comes to the Super Bowl — let the players alone cast the colors and the tone — because we’ve had our fill of the gaudy and the treacly.